Starting November 28th, I’ll be switching to “remote mode” for a year whilst travelling around the world. This blog post tries to explain some of the best practices I’ve used in the past and how I plan to make this work so it doesn’t affect my team.
Remote working is a hot topic. Everybody is talking about it and so much has been written about how good it can be for companies to embrace this practice. It’s also well known that Mobile Jazz is aligned with that philosophy and we’ve certainly demonstrated many times how to make it happen. Our co-founder Stefan Klumpp lives in a perpetual nomad state in a campervan and we’ve even moved part of the company to Thailand, Austria or Tarifa for long periods of time with outstanding results.
We’ve already written about how to run a remote-friendly company so I won’t go into the tools we use and how we use them. Instead, I want to talk about the mindset one has to have in order to be effective, efficient and overall, achieve better results whilst working remotely.
A Different Mindset
When working remotely you have to stop thinking the usual 9-to-5 way. What used to be a no brainer might get super tricky while you’re remote working. In my case, I find that the following pointers are a good set of skills to focus on if you want to be successful at remote working.
You won’t have the immediate human interaction you’re used to having when sharing a physical space. To replace this, you need to put a lot of effort in communication. Be present. Make your teammates and clients feel that you’re there (for them), even if you’re not there (with them). If you will remember only one thing about this post, remember this.
Stick to a Plan
When you plan to travel around the world you’ll want to visit interesting places. If you want to visit a Buddhist temple in the middle of the day, that’s great, but plan for it in advance. As long as your teammates and clients know beforehand that you won’t be available at a certain time, you shouldn’t face any trouble. Of course, there will always be difficult times when unplanned and urgent actions suddenly appear, which brings me to my next point.
Respect Your Priorities
Yes, I’ll be travelling around the world for a year, but I won’t be on holidays the whole time. My priorities are crystal clear. I may have planned for a nice yoga session but if a client calls saying that their website is down, my plans will be postponed, no questions asked. The only way to make this sustainable is by being disciplined. If this bothers you, you might as well take a sabbatical and travel the world as a full-time holiday.
Getting Things Done
When you are travelling and don’t have the chance to settle down in a single place for a long period of time, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got a few essential areas covered. There are some non-negotiable things that you’ll need to have sorted to make sure you can efficiently work remotely.
I can’t get things done while watching TV or whilst at a coffee house in the center of Barcelona. I need to focus and get “in the zone”. I love to listen to music while I work. I have an excellent pair of noise-cancelling headphones (in fact half of the team has the same model), combine them with a ‘Focus’ playlist from Spotify and I’m good to go! You may be one of the lucky ones that can watch a TV show, have a coffee, tell a joke and code a bug-less website with one hand, but sadly I’m not and I need to hack my way into focusing.
Search for a Place That Is Suitable for Working
The views are awesome when you’re camping next to the Grand Canyon, and you can even take a hot shower in the Serengeti, but if you don’t have internet access for long periods of time, it just won’t work. You don’t need a 300MB/s fiber connection, but at least a line that is good enough to make conference calls. When planning to work remotely you need to make sure you have the essentials: good internet access, a comfortable chair, a good desk and a cozy space with nice light and temperature.
Just Do It
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you have so many things to do and you don’t know where to begin? I have, often. From my experience, most of the time it doesn’t matter where you start, just as long as you start. Just do it and soon enough, you’ll realize you’re getting things done. In the end, it all comes down to being disciplined enough to stop procrastination.
Planning Your Trip Ahead
I won’t talk about planning where to go, but how to go. Based on previous experiences, I think there are two basic points one needs to consider when planning a remote working trip.
Plan for Three Days, You’ll End up Working Four
At Mobile Jazz, we like to plan our work based on a four days per week basis. We know there is always enough overhead that, combined with unexpected requests from our clients, keeps us busy for five days a week. When travelling and working, this gets a little more complicated, you know you’ll want a long weekend every so often, and in these cases you’ll need an extra buffer day to ensure you have enough room for all the work in your schedule.
Slow Travel: Visit Less, Know More
It’s very tempting to start thinking about all the different places you would like to visit when travelling around the world, but the truth is that you will have to find a compromise and choose fewer destinations to spend longer periods of time. This will help when creating a routine and you’ll actually start getting to know your way around. Remember you’ll be working most of the time and won’t have enough time to visit places as regular tourists do.
Remote working and travelling around the world is possible. A lot of people often point out how lucky we are for being part of a company that allows us to do what other companies wouldn’t even dare to discuss. Yes, we are lucky, but we are also disciplined, responsible and organized and that’s what makes it work. That’s what allows us to keep doing it.